Abbreviated version of OCA Policies, Standards and Procedures on Sexual Misconduct issued


In response to general feedback from parishes, the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations (ORSMA) and the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC) of the Orthodox Church in America have created an abbreviated version of the Policies, Standards, and Procedures (PSP) on Sexual Misconduct.

“Parishes—specifically parish council members and youth workers—will be required to read this five-page booklet rather than the full 39 page PSP,” said Cindy Heise, ORSMA Coordinator.  “This will hopefully encourage more people to read the PSP and understand the components that directly impact parish life in regard to protecting our youth.”

Accordingly, she added, the Annual Compliance Form has also been revised to reflect what actions are required on the parish level.  Another associated document, the Guidelines on Background Checks has also been updated to further clarify the PSP requirements.  The Holy Synod of Bishops has approved all of these documents.

“Most importantly, we have come to a consensus concerning the screening of volunteers working with minors in the Church,” Mrs. Heise continued.  “We have agreed that all current youth workers and Church school teachers who have worked in their capacity for less than two years (as of this date) and future applicants who wish to work with youth must go through the full screening procedure as designated in the PSP.  This would include a written application, an in-person interview, professional or personal references, criminal history check every three years, child abuse clearance, driving history check if applicable, and training on the prevention of sexual abuse of children annually.

“Any youth worker and Church school teacher who has been working in his/her role for more than two years as of this date will be exempt from two components of the screening procedure—the interview and reference check,” she added.  “They are still required, however, to fill out a written application and undergo the criminal history check (every three years), child abuse clearance, driving history check, and training on the prevention of sexual abuse of children.”

Mrs. Heise concluded by saying that a file folder should be created for each individual youth worker and Church school teacher in a secure location in their respective parishes and that all screening documentation should be kept in each individual’s folder.